I started doing yoga at a climbing gym because my doctor said I needed to do something to decrease my blood pressure (and classes were free with a membership). I was 24 years old and on medication for hypertension that doubled as a mild anti-anxiety pill. I was fresh out of college living teeny paycheck to teeny paycheck in one of the most expensive cities in the US and my family was a 6 hour plane ride away, which didn't really matter because they couldn't have helped me (financially at least) in case of an emergency. My biggest fear was that I would have an emergency and end up hungry or homeless.
Turns out I really enjoyed yoga. Some of it has to do with my anatomy. I am naturally flexible, so it was easy. But as time went on and one class a week turned into three classes a week. I noticed a shift in my anxiety and at 26 years old, my doctor took me off medicine for high blood pressure. I wasn't part of a scientific study, so it's not factually proven, but I'd like to think the yoga had something to do with it.
My life became significantly more stable once I met my husband. Then came the move to France, a bit stressful with the broken arm, new language, new social customs, etc, but I managed to stay (mostly) sane and off medicine. They don't always do emergencies well here, customer service is non-existent, but they do preventative care like nobody's business and my doctors followed my hypertension (high blood pressure) issues closely, and though borderline, decided I didn't need medicine.
Baby one came and I needed a bit of medicinal help for a post birth hypertensive crisis, but things went back to normal quickly after. Baby two came, and who has time to do yoga every day while taking care of a toddler and napping because growing a human is exhausting, and the hypertensive issues showed up a towards the end of pregnancy. My midwife was amazing and followed me closely with blood pressure and fetal heartbeat monitoring every other day towards the end, and when my symptoms started to look like eclampsia, we decided that # 2 needed to come out a bit earlier than nature intended. Labor is rough when it's induced and this was no exception, but I was determined and my little one made it out with a few gentle pushes despite popping back in a few times - she had the cord wrapped around her neck and arm! It was the most gentle birth, and I knew I wouldn't have the perineal issues I had after baby #1. I had taken an excellent prenatal/postnatal training between babies, and my midwife had taken the same one, so we understood each other even without words. After a rough labor, I was done, or so I thought. My baby was here, we had sent out that first note, "Babe is born, they are both doing well." and photo to immediate family and we were cuddling. Little did we know, it was a bit too early for that note.
A postpartum hemorrhage, 2 pints of blood, near kidney failure, and uncontrollable hypertension at the birth clinic was followed by a 5 night stay in the basement ICU of the local hospital, where they tried and failed too many times to recall, to find the right cocktail of medicines. All without my newborn baby. I was eventually sent home after 10 days bedridden with some seriously strong doses of 3 different medicines 3 times a day. After 10 days in a bed and way too much medicine, I could barely make it across the street to get a baguette. By day 5 at home, I had made it to the grocery store, but a trip that normally takes 5 minutes took 15.
All that to say, it's been a long road to recovery and I am in terrible shape. I'm still on a crazy cocktail of medicines and although I take them less frequently, somedays they make my blood pressure drop so low that I get really dizzy, especially when going from seated/crouched position to upright. Which means downdog, forward fold, etc are difficult, and some days even dangerous. But I've been doing this yoga thing for 15 years now, so my body and mind know it by heart and as many of my students saw when I was pregnant, I am able to teach even though I can't do it all myself!
I am forever grateful to the people who saved my life. Twice. And to the French health care system that certainly has its flaws but kept me alive for FREE. I am so grateful that I was hungry only once, and was never homeless, I know that's not the reality for so many people around the world. And I am forever grateful for my two beautiful children. My biggest fear now, is that I won't be around long enough to see them grow into adults. So I guess it's time to commit to being on the mat every damn day dizziness or not. Wish me luck.
Former San Francisco DNA wrangler and current Paris yoga teacher and mom. Sharing. Caution: Possibly too much.
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